We demand the Right to Stand
Covid-19 is taking a massive toll on Northern Ireland society in terms of lives, health
and material well being. Brexit threatens. As a result of years of Tory austerity
policies (and the absence of Stormont for three years), our public services are in
severe difficulty and inequalities are increasing. Health and social care are in crisis.
Meanwhile, our devolved Stormont Executive members bicker among themselves.
The Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI) has 1700 full members. We have our
own EC and send delegates to Labour Party Conference and to Labour Women’s
Conference as Northern Ireland CLP.
However, Labour’s NEC refuses us the right to stand Labour Party candidates in any
election: local government, Westminster, or Stormont Assembly. We pay our party
subscriptions and our trade union political levies, but we are denied Labour Party
electoral representation in a discriminatory manner.
This denial of Labour Party electoral representation is also a gross suppression of our
basic democratic political rights. Under the Good Friday Agreement, Northern
Ireland remains part of the UK. In the next General Election, the Labour Party will
campaign to be our Government and yet we will be denied the right to vote for
Labour Party candidates. Northern Ireland voters are institutionally disenfranchised
and discriminated against.
In the absence of the progressive pull of the Labour Party, we are incentivised to
vote for local communal-sectarian parties, such as the DUP and Sinn Fein. These
parties are given a free run by Labour and in the last parliament the Tories got the
support of the DUP MPs to stay in power at Westminster.
The ‘sister party’
The Labour Party has considered the SDLP to be its ‘sister party’ in the Party of
European Socialists (PES) and used that as an excuse not to run candidates in
However, the SDLP is now in a formal ‘Policy Partnership’ with Fianna Fail, which is
affiliated to the ‘liberal-centrist’ Renew Europe group in the European Parliament.
The SDLP Leader has campaigned for Fianna Fail candidates against Irish Labour in
Irish elections. This very much calls into question the legitimacy of Labour’s sister
Our advice is that there is nothing in the Statutes of the Party of European Socialists
(PES) that prevents Labour from standing candidates in Northern Ireland.
The suppression of Labour Party electoral politics leaves a glaring vacuum in left of
centre politics which has played an unfathomable role over the years in destabilising
Northern Ireland society.
The way forward
To fill this gap we need a strong cross-community anti-sectarian political voice to
campaign for a better future. That voice has to be the Labour Party. The NEC has a
moral responsibility to politically represent all the people of Northern Ireland, many
of whom are members of affiliated unions and pay the political levy. Labour must
give us the progressive political lead we need.
If the NEC continues to suppress Labour Party representation here, this will
aggravate our current unstable political situation. There is a real possibility of
regression in our politics and in our security situation if the incentives are not taken
off divisive communal politics. It is imperative the NEC takes responsibility and
provides us with that political leadership.
Our call for support
We call on all supporters to campaign actively in their CLPs and trade unions to
persuade the Labour Party NEC it must drop this discriminatory suppression of our
democratic rights. We must have the Right to Stand.
‘The Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI) calls on the party NEC to stand Labour
Party candidates in Northern Ireland elections. This will end the discriminatory
disenfranchisement of the Northern Ireland electorate (including many political levy
paying trade unionists) who are all currently denied the democratic right to vote